NASCAR resumes at Darlington Sunday; race to honor healthcare workers including Zionsville doctor

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Good news for anyone tired of rewatching old games, races and championships: There’s an actual live sporting event coming to your TV.

NASCAR is back this weekend for a 400-mile Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway. There won’t be fans in the stands, but the racing action is otherwise the same.

Renamed “The Real Heroes 400,” the race will honor frontline healthcare workers across the country fighting coronavirus.

Through a collaboration with NASCAR, FOX Sports and the race teams, each driver’s name will be replaced above the driver-side window with the name of an individual healthcare worker currently battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Driver and Indiana-native Ryan Newman, who is returning after his terrifying crash at the Daytona 500 in February, will honor Dr. Benjamin Petty of Zionsville.

Petty works in the emergency department at IU Health West Hospital in Avon. He is a race fan who grew up close enough to Indianapolis Motor Speedway that he could hear the cars practicing in May. He has also worked as a doctor at IMS for several years.

Petty and his fellow honorees will serve as grand marshals for The Real Heroes 400, appearing on air to give the simultaneous command for drivers to start their engines.

Race coverage starts Sunday at 2 p.m. on FOX59 with the “Return to Racing” special looking ahead to weekend and weekday racing.

The Cup Series race begins at 3:30 p.m.

This is the first NASCAR race after a 10-week hiatus due to COVID-19. It is the first of three races at the historic Darlington track through May 20.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns on Tuesday, May 19 at 8 p.m., followed by the second NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington on Wednesday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

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